Albert Pujols' Back Leg
I have been getting many questions about Albert Pujols'
struggles at the start of the 2012 regular season. I have looked
at a few lower-quality clips, and do think I see a problem with
his swinging at more balls and pitches down in the strike zone
than usual, but today I
came across the clip below of Albert Pujols that may shed more
light on his struggles.
The first thing to notice is that his struggles are
not due to a problem with
Pujols' stride. Notice how, in the clip above,
Albert Pujols is using his classic stride, not the stride that
he experimented with at the start of the 2011 season and that
suppressed his average and power at the start of the 2011 season.
However, what you can see in the clip above of Albert Pujols
is a problem with his back leg in general, and his back foot in
The thing to notice in the clip above is how much Albert Pujols' back foot
skids around at the start of the rotation of his hips. As you
can see in the clip below, his back foot moves much more than it did during his days in St. Louis.
This is an issue because the more the back foot moves, the more
energy that is bled off as opposed to being used to rotate the
hips, which can lead to warning track power rather than home run
It's hard to say exactly why Pujols' back foot is doing what
it is doing.
The difference could be due to Albert Pujols'
pre-at-bat routine. Albert Pujols used to be meticulous
about preparing the area below his back foot — before every at
bat he would dig out a small trench into which he would place
his back foot — and it could be that he isn't doing that any
more for some reason.
The difference could be due to Albert Pujols' cleats.
His cleats don't seem to be biting into the ground the way
they used to. I know that Pujols has struggled with heel pain in
the past and it's possible that, in an effort to deal with that
problem, he has changed to a pair of cleats that don't let his
back foot lock into the ground as well as it used to.
Regardless of the precise cause, the fact is that Albert
Pujols' back foot clearly isn't biting into the batter's box any
more. Instead, it just skids around on top of the dirt of the
batter's box. That is causing his back foot to move around too
much and is reducing the force with which his hips rotate. That,
could be reducing his batspeed.
I've spent a bit more time looking at Albert Pujols' swing
and looking for differences between his 2011 swing and his 2012
swing. As part of that effort, I put the clip below together.
2011 vs. 2012
I continue to see few significant differences between the two
swings, with the exception of the back legs and the back feet.
The thing to compare is the stability of Albert Pujols' back
leg, and his back foot in particular.
In the 2011 clip, Albert Pujols' back leg and back foot are
rock steady. In contrast, in the 2012 clip Albert Pujols' back
leg is unsteady and his back foot skids around underneath him as
his hips start to rotate.
In my opinion that difference, while small, is potentially
significant because an unsteady back foot is often associated
with power deficits and swings that are less efficient than they could be. It could be that Pujols felt
the power deficit and, not knowing the root cause of it, started
changing multiple things in an effort to try to fix the problem.
That then caused him to press, which made things much worse, not
Albert Pujols has hit two home runs in the last two days.
What's more, these balls weren't hit with the fugly swing that
you saw when he hit
his first home run of 2012. Instead, they were hit with the
classic Albert Pujols swing.
So what has changed?
If you look at clips of these home runs and watch Albert
Pujols' back foot...
Home Run to Left Field
Home Run to Center Field
...you will see that
Albert Pujols' back foot and back leg are much more stable than
they were during the previous weeks. Instead of his
back foot skidding around in the
batter's box, Albert Pujols' back foot stays locked into the
ground until it gets pulled up and around by the rotation
of his hips.
For reasons that I explain in greater detail on
my client site, that has restored Albert Pujols' power and
his confidence. As long as he makes sure to pay attention to
this, Albert Pujols should return to hitting at close to his